US & Canada

NYC jogger killing: Karina Vetrano's mum blasts suspected killer

Karina Vetrano Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Karina Vetrano, a 30-year-old speech therapist, was jogging when she was killed in the city's Queens borough

The mother of a murdered New York City jogger has lashed out at her daughter's suspected killer in court, shouting: "Now your nightmare begins."

Chanel Lewis, 20, was arraigned on Sunday with murder and sex crimes in Karina Vetrano's August 2016 death.

"He's a demon," Cathy Vetrano said about the suspect, who was arrested on Saturday, six months after the killing.

Investigators say the accused's DNA was found at the crime scene, including under the victim's fingernails.

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Mrs Vetrano mother shouted at the suspect during his court arraignment

The victim's father, Philip Vetrano, told reporters: "It's a good day. We can move on now."

Mr Vetrano, who spoke after the court appearance, said that he and his wife plan to attend every hearing.

"The demon must get his justice, and we will see to it," Mrs Vetrano added.

"He should be in hell and burned in hell."

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Chanel Lewis is being held without bail

Mr Lewis's father, a retired primary school principal, also attended Sunday's court hearing, telling reporters his son was innocent.

"He has never done anything, nothing in his whole life," said Richard Lewis on the steps of the courthouse.

"He wouldn't have done it," he added.

But prosecutors say the suspect has already confessed.

Assistant district attorney Michael Curtis said: "This defendant admitted to attacking the victim, admitted to beating her, to strangling her and dragging her body in the weeds."

Ms Vetrano, a 30-year-old speech therapist, was jogging alone when she was sexually assaulted and strangled in the city's Queens borough.

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Ms Vetrano was an avid runner, friends and neighbours say

Her father, a retired New York City firefighter, normally ran with her but had a back injury that day.

Mr Vetrano later found her body in marshland near the Spring Creek Park running trail.

Officials say Mr Lewis had no connection to Ms Vetrano and that after his arrest he gave a "detailed incriminating account of what happened" to investigators.

The suspect, from the East New York neighbourhood in the borough of Brooklyn, had not previously been arrested.

But he has received several police summonses at Howard Beach for suspicious behaviour near a bicycle trail, not far from the crime scene.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mourners carry Ms Vetrano's casket at her funeral on 6 August 2016

Shortly after being told of the arrest on Saturday, an incensed Mr Vetrano was seen leaving his home carrying a wooden cudgel.

The retired New York City firefighter later returned, without giving an explanation to reporters.

The Vetrano family have vowed to push for familial DNA screening, a controversial practice currently banned under New York law.

It allows police to search state and federal DNA databases to see if a suspect has a relative with genetic information on record.

Critics say it is a violation of family privacy.